Mon 13 Oct, 2008 05:15 pm
Mongoose Pups Pick Parents
Banded mongooses live in extended-family groups, with as many as ten females breeding at the same time. When they're about a month old, pups leave the communal den to forage with the adults. That's when a pup usually begins to associate exclusively with one particular adult - not necessarily a parent - that provides nourishment and protection. One might assume that the adult chooses the pup it wishes to assist.
Not so, says Jason S. Gilchrist of Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland, who has long studied banded mongooses in Uganda.
His latest research demonstrates that the pups do the picking, then establish and jealously defend a territorial zone of about a yard radius around their adult "escort." Other pups that venture too close are chased away.